Resources for Researchers

This page provides links to resources and documents that explain methods, describe tools, and highlight considerations for using lidar data in research. Other resources are highlighted on the resources for students and resources for educators, which we encourage users to explore. To learn more about using OpenTopography or lidar data, please visit the tutorials page. If you have any questions, visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or email us at

OpenTopography Publications

Publications Report The OpenTopography Publications Report is a list of publications that have used OpenTopography data for the many fields applicable to lidar including computer science, earth science, ecology, geophysical mapping, GIS, hazards, hydrology, remote sending and sociotechnology To contribute to this document, please email us at Publications Page The publications page has a listing of publications written about OpenTopography by OpenTopography personnel. Publications cover cyberinfrastructure of the portal, Lidar data application to active tectonics and teaching potential for data.

Lidar Research Resources

NCALM Seed Grants Many datasets available on OpenTopography were collected for graduate students via the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping's (NCALM) Seed program. Each year, NCALM surveys up to ten projects (each generally covering no more than 40 square kilometers) for graduate student PIs who need Airborne Laser Swath Mapping (ALSM) data. For more information about the program and how to submit a proposal, visit NCALM's Seed Program. OpenTopography Tool Registry The OpenTopography Tool Registry provides a community populated clearinghouse of software, utilities, and tools oriented towards high-resolution topography data (e.g. collected with lidar technology) handling, processing, and analysis. Tools registered below range from source code to full-featured software applications. Selected Resources for Researchers Below is a table of tools and resources from OpenTopography that may be helpful when conducting research with lidar data. These resources cover all parts of the research process from considerations when buying lidar data to interpreting the data itself.
Title & Link
ASU Short Course: Techniques in Active Tectonic Study
by J Ramon Arrowsmith and Gayatri Indah Marliyani
  • Wealth of content for different techniques applied to active tectonics studies. Full lecture videos and links to exercises, data and software.
  • Paleoseismological, seismic hazard and active tectonic analysis examples from Japan, Virginia (USA), Italy and California (USA).
ASU Short Course
Remotely Sensed Imagery used to Map Earth History
by Ralph Haugerud, USGS
  • DEMs derived from LiDAR: important considerations before the research begins.
  • Geomorphic mapping from 6ft DEMs in Puget Sound area.
OpenTopography Short Course
Identifying and mapping landforms and quantifying fault displacement with lidar
By Ramon Arrowsmith, ASU, and Kurt Frankel, Georgia Tech
  • Basics of alluvial fan mapping and quantifying fault displacement using airborne lidar data.
  • Study areas in Death Valley and the Carrizo Plain.
OpenTopography Short Course(4A)
LiDAR sensor and system capabilities and issues
By Ken Hudnut, USGS, Mike Bevis, OSU & Adrian Borsa, SIO
  • GPS Positioning errors and B4 experiment design.
  • Some observations on Corduroy or Corn Row artifacts.
  • System issues & limitations to widespread geodetic use.
OpenTopography Short Course
Buying lidar & Data Quality
By Ralph Haugerud, USGS
  • Details for considerations when buying LiDAR data collection, including costs.
  • Assessing LiDAR quality process (Qa/Qc process).
OpenTopography Short Course
Python scripts for processing lidar in ArcGIS
By Ralph Haugerud, USGS (zip)
  • ArcGIS Toolbox for creating, analyzing and manipulating LiDAR DEMs.
  • Required ArcGIS v 9.3 or higher.
OpenTopography Short Course
Proposed specification for lidar surveys in the Pacific Northwest
By Ralph Haugerud, USGS (zip)
  • Proposed common specifications for public-agency lidar surveys in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Detailed spec for collection, product delivery, and metadata.
OpenTopography Short Course